Kim Sun-a

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Kim Sun-a
Born (1973-10-01) October 1, 1973 (age 44)
Daegu, South Korea[1]
Education Ball State University - Piano Major
Kyung Hee University - Theater and Film[1]
Occupation Actress
Years active 1996–present
Agent Fantagio
C-JeS Entertainment
Korean name
Hangul 김선아
Hanja 金宣兒
Revised Romanization Gim Seon-a
McCune–Reischauer Kim Sŏna

Kim Sun-a (born October 1, 1973) is a South Korean actress. She is best known for her titular role as Kim Sam-soon in the popular television series My Lovely Sam Soon (2005). Other notable series include City Hall (2009) and Scent of a Woman (2011).

Early life[edit]

Kim Sun-a was born in Daegu in 1973.[2] She is the eldest of three siblings, and has a younger brother and sister.[1] When Kim was in middle school, her family immigrated to Japan, and she spent much of her adolescence in Chōfu, Tokyo, where she learned to speak Japanese fluently.[3]

In 1993, Kim enrolled at Ball State University in Indiana, United States as a Piano major (she also became fluent in English).


While in South Korea for summer vacation in 1996, Kim stood in for a friend in a modeling job, thus inadvertently making her entertainment debut. Despite her inexperience in show business, she left college and subsequently appeared in a Hanbul Cosmetics commercial with the slogan "I felt his scent on a strange woman," which jump-started her career. She then appeared in a music video by Kim Hyun-cheol, and in 1997 began getting cast in supporting roles on TV but did not emerge as a star. Kim would first become well known as a film actress, debuting in the big-budget box office failure Yesterday but going on to play a lead role as a student teacher in the unexpected hit Wet Dreams.[3] Initially Kim had considered a singing career and successfully auditioned to join Park Joon-hyung and Park Jin-young's project mixed-gender group "GOT6" in 1997 but left the following year to pursue acting. The group then became the five-piece boy band g.o.d. Kim's identity as the anonymous female singer who was originally part of "GOT6" was only revealed by Park Joon-hyung and confirmed by Kim herself in 2015.[4][5]

Following her film success, Kim began to establish a niche for herself in comedies, often appearing as a straight-talking and not particularly demure comic heroine. She appeared in three films in 2003: a memorable cameo appearance in the period comedy Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield, opposite Im Chang-jung in the commercially successful The Greatest Expectation, and together with Cha Tae-hyun in the little-watched Happy Ero Christmas. In 2004 she took the lead role in S Diary as a jilted woman who decides to get revenge on her ex-boyfriends.[3]

The early part of 2005 saw her star in the action-comedy She's on Duty, but she would follow up by returning to the realm of TV dramas. It proved to be the best move of her career, as My Lovely Sam Soon ended up becoming the most-watched drama of 2005.[6] The forthright, independent personality she displayed in her leading role as a woman who finds unexpected success in life as a baker endeared her to women across Korea, and later Asia, establishing her as a top star.[3][7] Later that year, Kim decided to finish her college degree by transferring to Kyung Hee University as a Theater and Film major (she graduated in 2009 and received an Achievement Award from the College of Art and Design).

Her first post-Sam Soon project was supposed to have been the movie Thursday's Child, but the project ran into problems midway through filming. The film production company Yoon and Joon sued Kim for breach of contract and damages worth ₩1 billion, claiming that the actress was liable for their losses of more than ₩2.3 billion. She won the lawsuit in 2007, with the Seoul Central District Court ruling that Kim bore no responsibility for the shutdown of the movie.[8] After undergoing script revisions and a change of director and lead actress (to Yunjin Kim), Thursday's Child was eventually renamed and released as Seven Days.

In early 2008, Kim was involved in another controversy. Na Hoon-a, a successful trot singer with a career spanning over 40 years, was falsely rumored to had been castrated by yakuza, because he was having an affair with the mistress of a gang boss. The mistress was wildly guessed at, with the names of actresses Kim Hye-soo and Kim Sun-a thrown around (both issued official denials). Na ended up holding a press conference in which he almost stripped in order to prove the rumor was untrue, and demanded that the media apologize to the two actresses.[9][10]

After a three-year hiatus caused by legal and contractual disputes, Kim finally got back to work in 2008, starring in the big-screen comedy Girl Scout,[11] and the poorly received TV drama Night After Night (also known as When It's At Night).[12] 2009's City Hall, where she played a low-ranking city official whose life takes a turn when she wins a pageant and later becomes the mayor, was a modest hit, with fans crediting its success to Kim's chemistry with her co-star Cha Seung-won.[13][14]

Originally cast as the lead actress for 2010's I Am Legend, Kim quit before filming started due to issues with the production (she was replaced by her good friend Kim Jung-eun). Instead she chose the 2011 melodrama Scent of a Woman, which centers on a spinster who, after slaving herself at a travel agency for many years, is diagnosed that she only has six months left to live, and decides to live the rest of her life happily, turning in her resignation and leaving for a vacation of luxury.[15][16] She next starred in the movie Pitch High (in Korean, Fighting Spirit), in which she played the supportive wife of a second string baseball pitcher.[17]

In the 2012 romantic comedy series I Do, I Do, Kim's character is a workaholic shoe designer who gets pregnant after a one-night stand with a much younger newbie employee, then meets a charming obstetrician.[18][19] She returned to the big screen in 2013 thriller The Five, based on the popular webtoon by Jeong Yeon-shik, in which Kim played a woman who plots revenge against the serial killer who murdered her family and left her crippled (her performance later won Best Actress at the 34th Golden Cinema Festival).[20][21]

In 2014, Kim's contract with King Kong Entertainment ended,[22] and she signed with new management agency Fantagio.[23] She then won the lawsuit she had filed against a plastic surgery clinic in Busan for breaching her publicity rights by using her name and photos in their advertising without her permission; she received ₩25 million in damages.[24]

Kim is set to star in her first Chinese television drama Competition of Roses, in which she and Rain Li play rivals.

In February 2015, Kim ended her contract with Fantagio. She was then cast in Masked Prosecutor, about a prosecutor by day who turns into a masked vigilante by night; Kim plays the chief of a detective squad in the violent crimes unit.[25]

In October 2015, Kim signed an exclusive contract with management agency C-JeS Entertainment.[26]


Television drama[edit]

Year Title Role Network
1997 Bang-ul-i MBC
Three Guys and Three Girls MBC
New York Story SBS
White Christmas SBS
1998 Winners SBS
Love and Success Lee Mi-ran MBC
Forever Yours Hwang Ji-young MBC
MBC Best Theater: "Her Flower Pot No. 1" Oh Hyun-ah MBC
1999 MBC Best Theater:
"A Scent of That Winter's Day"
Joo-yeon MBC
Jump MBC
Love Story: "Sunflower" SBS
2000 Joa, Joa Woon Jo-ah SBS
Golden Era Lee Joo-young MBC
2003 Pretty Woman (cameo) MBC
2005 My Lovely Sam Soon Kim Sam-soon MBC
2008 Night After Night Heo Cho-hee MBC
2009 City Hall Shin Mi-rae SBS
2011 Scent of a Woman Lee Yeon-jae SBS
2012 I Do, I Do Hwang Ji An MBC
2013 Competition of Roses Shen Wei
2015 Masked Prosecutor Yoo Min-hee KBS2
2017 Woman of Dignity Park Bok-ja JTBC


Year Title Role
2002 Yesterday May
Wet Dreams Yoo-ri
2003 Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield Gyebaek's wife (cameo)
The Greatest Expectation Mi-young
Happy Ero Christmas Heo Min-kyung
2004 S Diary Na Jin-hee
2005 She's on Duty Chun Jae-in
2007 The Worst Guy Ever Passerby (cameo)
2008 Girl Scout Choi Mi-kyung
Sweet Lie First love Sun-a (cameo)
2010 Attack the Gas Station 2 Herself (cameo)
2011 Pitch High Oh Yoo-ran
2013 The Five Go Eun-ah

Music video[edit]

Year Song Title Artist
2000 "I Realized Too Late" Yoo Ji-min
"Serenade" Jinu
"I Didn't Go to School" Ryang Hyun, Ryang Ha
"Time Out" J
2007 "Three People" Lee Ki-chan

Musical theatre[edit]

Year Title Role
2000 Guys and Dolls


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2002 23rd Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actress Wet Dreams Nominated
2003 26th Golden Cinematography Awards Best New Actress Yesterday Won
24th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Actress The Greatest Expectation Nominated
2004 2nd CGV Viewer's Choice of the Year Awards Best Actress Won
40th Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actress (Film) Won
41st Grand Bell Awards Best New Actress Nominated
27th Golden Cinematography Awards Most Popular Actress Won
2005 18th Grimae Awards Best Actress My Lovely Sam Soon Won
6th Korea Visual Arts Festival Photogenic Award, TV Actress category Won
Korea Green Foundation 100 People Who Brightened Our World Won
MBC Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Won
Top Excellence Award, Actress Won
Popularity Award Won
Best Couple Award (with Hyun Bin) Won
2006 42nd Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (TV) Nominated
1st Seoul International Drama Awards[27] Best Actress Nominated
18th Korea Broadcasting Producers Awards Best Performer Won
2008 MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress Night After Night Nominated
2009 Kyung Hee University - College of Art and Design Achievement Award N/A Won
SBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Drama Special City Hall Won
Top 10 Stars Won
2011 1st Hong Kong Cable TV Awards Best Actress Nominated
China Entertainment Television Top Ten Hottest Asia Award Scent of a Woman Won
SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Weekend/Daily Drama Won
Top 10 Stars Won
2012 48th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (TV) Nominated
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries I Do, I Do Nominated
2014 34th Golden Cinema Festival[28] Best Actress The Five Won


  1. ^ a b c 김선아 (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  2. ^ 연예인 '고무줄 나이' 밝혀지지 않은 스타는? (in Korean). Sports Chosun. 31 October 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Actors and Actresses of Korean Cinema: Kim Suna". Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  4. ^ "We Can See Korea Trip (part 2)". 2 Days & 1 Night. Season 3. Episode 414. 18 October 2015. KBS2. 
  5. ^ "'명단공개' 김선아,god 원년멤버였다…'멤버들과 동고동락'". The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). October 24, 2016. 
  6. ^ "MBC Drama Sparks Kim Sam-soon Syndrome". The Chosun Ilbo. 4 July 2005. 
  7. ^ "Kim Sun-a Gains Weight to Win Hearts". The Chosun Ilbo. 20 July 2005. 
  8. ^ "Kim Seon-ah Wins Breach-of-Contract Suit". The Chosun Ilbo. 14 December 2007.
  9. ^ Park, Sang-woo (26 January 2008). "Na Hoon-a denies gangster rumors, drops his trousers". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  10. ^ "Na Hoon-a and the Posion of Celebrity Rumor". The Chosun Ilbo. 28 January 2008.
  11. ^ Ki, Sun-min (11 June 2008). "No pain, no gain for the streetwise ajumma squad". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  12. ^ "Night after Night premiered on June 16, 2008 and actress Kim Seon-a plays the main character Hur Cho-hee". MBC Global Media. 2 July 2008.
  13. ^ Han, Sang-hee (21 April 2009). "City Hall to Bring Public Officials to TV". The Korea Times.
  14. ^ Oh, Jean (29 April 2009). "More romantic comedy for prime time". The Korea Herald. 
  15. ^ Park, So-jung (1 June 2011). "Kim Suna, Lee Dong-wook and Um Ki-joon cast in new drama". 10Asia.
  16. ^ Lee, Ga-on (4 November 2011). "Actress Kim Suna's Song Picks". 10Asia.
  17. ^ Hong, Lucia (16 February 2010). "Kim Suna and Kim Ju-hyeok cast in new drama movie". 10Asia.
  18. ^ Hong, Lucia (17 May 2012). "Kim Suna, Lee Jang-woo's I Do I Do to air later this month". 10Asia.
  19. ^ Oh, Jean (25 May 2012). "Kim, well-shod, chic and ready for her close-up". The Korea Herald. 
  20. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (30 January 2013). "Kim Sun-a to make way back to the big screen". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  21. ^ Jeon, Su-mi (29 January 2013). "Kim Sun Ah to Star in The 5ive Hearts". enewsWorld. 
  22. ^ "Kim Sun A" (in Korean). King Kong Entertainment. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  23. ^ "Kim Sun Ah no longer a Free Agent and signs with Fantagio". Allkpop. 4 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "Kim Sun Ah Wins Lawsuit Against a Plastic Surgery Hospital". Soompi. 2 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Jin, Min-ji (11 April 2015). "Actors team up on Masked". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  26. ^ Jo, Ji-young (27 October 2015). "김선아, 최민식-설경구 있는 씨제스 손잡는다". TV Report. 
  27. ^ "류시원, 제 1회 '서울드라마어워즈 2006' 사회". starnews. 
  28. ^ Formerly known as Golden Cinematography Awards.

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